Foreign Contribution to PM-CARES Fund
Recently, the Central Government has decided to accept contributions from abroad, irrespective of the nationalities, to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund.
Now the foreign governments, NGOs, and nationals can contribute to the Fund.
The move is a major policy change as in the past 16 years India has not accepted any foreign aid.
In 2018, the government refused to accept foreign aid to flood-ravaged Kerala since it was following the disaster aid policy set in December 2004.
After a tsunami hit India in December 2004, the government felt that it could cope up on its own. Since then, India has followed the policy of not accepting aid from foreign governments.
It has been said that the contribution to PM-CARES is not “aid” and the foreign contribution is “only” applicable to the PM-CARES fund and not any other fund like the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
Wimbledon Postponed due to Covid-19
Recently, the Wimbledon championships, which were scheduled for 29th June-12th July, have been cancelled for the first time since World War Two (WWII) in the wake of the ongoing crisis of Covid-19.
Wimbledon (one of the Grand Slams) had been one of the few events not to have been officially cancelled or postponed.
Few days back, the Tokyo Olympics were also postponed.
Grand Slam Tournaments:
These are the four most important annual tennis events and each tournament is played for about two weeks.
It consists of:
It takes place in mid-January
Played in hard courts.
It is also known as the Roland-Garros de Paris.
It takes place in May and June.
Played on clay court.
It takes place in June and July.
Played on a grass court.
It takes place in August and September.
Played in hard courts.
Wimbledon is relatively older than the rest (1877), followed by the US (1881), French (1891) and the Australian (1905).
Only Wimbledon was a major before 1924–25, when all the four became designated Grand Slam tournaments.
Threat of Food Shortage: UN, FAO and WTO
Recently, global agencies like the United Nations (UN), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) have warned the world of food shortage risk worldwide if authorities fail to manage the Covid-19 pandemic properly.
Major Reasons :
1) Lockdowns: Many governments around the world have put their populations on lockdown causing severe slow-downs in international trade and food supply chains.
2) Travel restrictions:
Confinement orders and travel restrictions cause disruptions in agricultural production due to the unavailability of agricultural labour and the inability to get food to markets.
Such disruptions result in the spoilage of perishables and increasing food waste.
3) Food Availability: Uncertainty about food availability can create a shortage on the global market.
4) Fragile Supply Chains: Panic buying by people for social isolation has already demonstrated the fragility of supply chains.
Covid-19 Quarantine Alert System (CQAS)
The DoT and the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), in coordination with telecom service providers, have developed and tested the application.
The CQAS prepares a list of mobile numbers, segregates them on the basis of telecom service providers, and the location data provided by the telecom companies is run on the application to create geo-fencing.
Geo-fencing is a location-based service in which an app or other software uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi or cellular data to trigger a pre-programmed action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location, known as a geofence.
Geo-fencing will only work if the quarantined person has a mobile phone from Airtel, Vodafone-Idea or Reliance Jio, as “BSNL/MTNL” do not support location based services. BSNL and MTNL are government owned.
The location information is received periodically over a secure network for the authorised cases with “due protection of the data received”.
The System triggers e-mails and SMS alerts to an authorised government agency if a person has jumped quarantine or escaped from isolation, based on the person’s mobile phone’s cell tower location. The “geo-fencing” is accurate by up to 300 m.
Use of Powers under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885:
The Centre is using powers under the Indian Telegraph Act to “fetch information” from telecom companies every 15 minutes to track COVID-19 cases across the country.
The States have been asked to seek the approval of their Home Secretaries under the provisions of Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, for the specified mobile phone numbers to request the DoT to provide information by email or SMS in case of violation of “geo-fencing”.
Section 5(2) authorises State or Centre to access information of a user’s phone data in case of “occurrence of any public emergency or in the interest of the public safety.”
Protection of Data:
As per the SOP, the phone number should be deleted from the system after the period for which location monitoring required is over and the data would be deleted four weeks from thereon.
The data collected shall be used only for the purpose of Health Management in the context of COVID-19 and is strictly not for any other purposes. Any violation in this regard would attract penal provisions under the relevant laws.
Recently, India supplied 6.2 tonnes of essential medicines to Maldives, under Operation Sanjeevani as assistance in the fight against COVID 19.
The medicines were delivered by an Hercules C-130J-30 aircraft of Indian Air Force.
The medicines include influenza vaccines, antiviral drugs such as lopinavir and ritonavir among others as well as consumables such as catheters, nebulisers, urine bags and infant feeding tubes.
Lopinavir and ritonavir have been used to treat patients with COVID-19 in some countries.
In March India also dispatched a 14-member Army medical team to Maldives to set up a viral testing lab there and gifted 5.5 tonne of essential medicines.
Previous India’s Assistance to Maldives:
1988: Under Operation Cactus the Indian Armed Forces have helped the government of Maldives in the neutralization of the coup attempt.
2004: India has helped Maldives after the tsunami.
2014: Under ‘Operation Neer’ India supplied drinking water to Maldives to deal with the drinking water crisis.
The two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) given by India to the Maldivian armed forces have been used in saving Maldivian lives.
The Advanced Light Helicopter is a multi-role, new generation helicopter in the 5.5-ton weight class, indigenously designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
National Agriculture Market
Union Agriculture Minister launches new features of e-NAM platform.
They are important steps in our fight against COVID-19.
They will strengthen agriculture marketing & reduce the need for cultivators to physically come to the mandis to sell their produce.
The newly launched software modules are namely:
Warehouse based trading module in e-NAM software to facilitate trade from warehouses based on e-NWR.
FPO trading module in e-NAM whereby FPOs can trade their produce from their collection center without bringing the produce to APMC.
Enhanced version of logistic module has been released whereby aggregators of transport logistic platform have on boarded which helps users to avail trackable transport facilities for transporting their produce.
What is e-NAM?
E-NAM (National Agriculture Market) is an online trading platform for agriculture produce aiming to help farmers, traders, and buyers with online trading and getting a better price by smooth marketing.
It was launched by the Centre in 2015 and the government had to extend it in a phased manner across the 585 mandis of the country by December 31, 2019.
Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is the lead agency for implementing eNAM under the aegis of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India.
NAM has the following advantages:
For the farmers, NAM promises more options for sale. It would increase his access to markets through warehouse-based sales and thus obviate the need to transport his produce to the mandi.
For the local trader in the mandi / market, NAM offers the opportunity to access a larger national market for secondary trading.
Bulk buyers, processors, exporters etc. benefit from being able to participate directly in trading at the local mandi / market level through the NAM platform, thereby reducing their intermediation costs.
The gradual integration of all the major mandis in the States into NAM will ensure common procedures for issue of licences, levy of fee and movement of produce.
The NAM will also facilitate the emergence of value chains in major agricultural commodities across the country and help to promote scientific storage and movement of agri goods.
Fragmentation of state into multiple market areas.
Poor quality of infrastructure and low use of technology.
In the traditional mandi system, farmers generally procured very less price for their crops as they had to pass through various intermediaries at the physical marketplace. This not only adds costs but also handling costs.
In addition, the farmer has to face obstacles in form of multiple tax levies and licenses and weak logistics and infrastructure in India.